Queerty sits down with HX founder Matthew Bank as the local New York gay rag celebrates its 15th anniversary. One of the big topics is the birth of Chelsea as a gay neighborhood and the subsequent emergence of the “Chelsea Boy” type:
“Chelsea was just starting to become a viable gay neighborhood. During the eighties and maybe the seventies, there were one or two gay bars on 8th Avenue in Chelsea, but once you got above 14th street, you didn’t have a gay neighborhood. It was just sort of a poor neighborhood. People really started moving into the neighborhood [in the late eighties]. Gentrification moves a little bit slowly, and gay people started moving into the neighborhood enough that all the store fronts started to turn into gay friendly sort of things…
…We put stuff on the cover that we could get; that we felt would be popular. From the very beginning when we had a picture of a ‘Chelsea Boy’ type or a hot guy with muscles with his shirt off, those magazines would get picked up a lot faster than all the others. So, I don’t think we created that preference, that aesthetic. Those people existed when we started publishing. There were circuit parties already existing, there were plenty of people shaving their chests and going to the gym before we published. So, I really think that, if anything, you could say that we reflected the times, rather than creating that aesthetic.”
So which came first, Chelsea or the Chelsea Boy? Like the chicken and the egg, we may just never know.